The workshop on "Migration and Families” was held in the framework of IOM's International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) whose overall theme for 2014 is "Human Mobility and Development: Emerging Trends and New Opportunities for Partnerships".

Consistent with IOM's mandate and Strategy Document (activity 7), the IDM provides a forum for IOM Member and Observer States, as well as international and non-governmental organizations and other partners, to share experiences and perspectives on migration matters with a view to identifying practical solutions and fostering greater cooperation.


Migration represents a means for an improved standard of living with significant development potential for migrants and their families, especially in the form of economic benefits. By the same token, the family traditionally holds a significant force for social cohesion and societal development in both countries of origin and destination.

However, the reality of migration today poses also other serious challenges to families and their members. Challenges range from separation of members for long periods with members of the same family becoming transnational involving considerable psycho-social implications, to difficulties of integration in countries of destination and to changes in intra-family gender roles.

These challenges are being exacerbated in the worldwide context of increasing labour mobility and restrictive migration policies. Children are increasingly affected by the migration of families, by either being separated from their parents and remaining behind, migrating with their families or migrating alone.

The youth are a category particularly impacted by migration in all the multiple roles inherent in the migration process: as members of families staying behind, as migrating alone and as migrating with their families. Evidence of the downsides of the migration of families on their members needs to be strengthened as does attention to policy.

The workshop focused on the migrant family and on the reality surrounding the phenomenon of family migration. It aimed to increase understanding of the differential and challenging impact of migration on families by examining the complex nature of effects linked to various forms of family migration on those who migrate, those who stay and those left behind (e.g., children, youth, spouses or parents).

Moreover, the workshop cast light on vulnerabilities and protection challenges, it discussed what comprehensive policy approaches exist to address development-related migration challenges affecting families at home and abroad, and recommended new tools and policies to tackle this multifaceted issue. Finally, the workshop tried to advance dialogue and provided policy perspectives on youth migration and its impact on development.


7 October 2014 |Day 1

09:00 - 10:00
10:00 – 12:30
Opening Session Welcome remarks
  • William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM

Keynote address

  • Ana María Baiardi Quesnel, Minister of Woman, Paraguay (Statement)

Session 1

Understanding the reality of the migration of families in an era of the greatest human mobility Moderator

  • William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM


  • Bience Gawanas, Former AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Advisor to the Government of Namibia
  • Johan Ketelers, Secretary General, International Catholic Migration Commission, Geneva (Statement)
  • Marco de Giorgi, Director General, National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministries, Italy
  • Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President, Save the Children Romania (Statement)
  • Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University, UK (Presentation)
  • Jane Connors, Director, Research and Right to Development Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
  • Francois Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (Video Message)
12:30 – 13:00
Country Without Parents - Presentation of book and discussion
13:00 - 15:00
Afternoon Break
13:00 - 15:00


Strengthening international cooperation for the protection of children on the move

15:00 - 16:30


Conditions, challenges and rights-based responses to support families and children in the context of migration Moderator

  • Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University, United Kingdom  


  • Ruth Farrugia, Advocate and Senior Lecturer Coordinator: Human Rights Programme Faculty of Laws University of Malta, Director General, The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, Malta (Presentation)
  • Kathya Rodriguez, Director General of Migration, Costa Rica (Presentation)
  • Patricia Mendoza, Director, Service for the protection of Mexicans in the United States of America, General Department for Protection of Mexicans abroad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico (Statement)
  • Ignacio Packer, Secretary General, Terre des Hommes International Federation, Geneva (Statement)
  • Andres Franco, Deputy Director, United Nations Children’s Fund, Geneva
  • Azfar Khan, Head, Policy Research and Knowledge Building, International Labour Organization, Geneva
16:30 – 18:00


The role of family reunification in facilitating integration Moderator

  • William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM


  • Catherine Wiesner, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, United States of America
  • Richard Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Visa Framework and Family Policy Branch, Migration and Citizenship Policy Division, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australia (Statement) (Presentation)
  • Lieven Brouwers, Policy Officer, Immigration and Integration Unit, DG Home Affairs, European Commission (Presentation)
  • Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council, United Kingdom (Statement)

End of day 1

8 October 2014 |Day 2

10:00 – 12:00


The effects of migration on family members remaining at home, particularly the children and the elderly Moderator

  • Ambassador Marta Maurás Pérez, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations and other international organizations and to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva 


  • Corneliu Tarus, Deputy Head, Family and Child Rights Protection Department, Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, Moldova (Presentation)
  • Llang Maama-Maime, Dr., Manager, National Tuberculosis Programme, Ministry of Health, Lesotho (Presentation)
  • Fred Machulu Onduri, Director Social Protection, Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Uganda (Presentation)
  • Manuel Sierra, Physician and public health specialist, Honduras (Presentation)
  • Aileen Peñas, Deputy Executive Director, ATIKHA Foundation, the Philippines (Statement) (Presentation)
12:00 – 13:00
Migrant's Voice Session
  • Sumaiya Islam, Director, Bangladeshi Association BOMSA, Bangladesh (Presentation)
  • Elvis Christian Kenmoe Sieyapdjie, Biomedical Engineer, Cameroon (Presentation)
13:00 - 15:00
Afternoon Break
15:00 - 17:30


The multiple role of youth in family migration Moderator

  • Natalia Popova, Senior Labour Economist, Labour Migration Branch (MIGRANT), International Labour Organization 


  • Cha Yong-Ho, Director of Immigrant Integration Division, Korea Immigration Service, Ministry of Justice, South Korea (Presentation)
  • Jason Gagnon, Economist, Migration and Skills Unit, OECD Development Centre (Presentation)
  • François Beya Kasonga, Director General of the General Directorate for Migration, Ministry of Interior and Security, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Statement)
  • André Belzile, First Secretary Humanitarian Affairs, Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva (Presentation)
  • Miguel Polo, Head of the Area of Evaluation and Technical Assistance in the Spanish Directorate General for Migrations, Spain (Presentation)
17:30 - 18:00
Closing Session
  • IOM Director General William Lacy Swing presented a summary of conclusions of the workshop (Summary)


Event documents